The Terrific Trio from Providence

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By Harry Derderian

Providence’s dynamic duo—Margaret Stepanian and Sylvia Simonian—have a big brother , and his name is Peter “Doc” Bedrosian.

(L-R) Margaret Stepanian, Doc Bedrosian, and Sylvia Simonian

For this terrific Providence trio, being Armenian and participating in numerous community activities has been a true lifetime journey of friendship and love; for a long time, each has continually been a part of—and continually given back to—any activity that defines an Armenian community.

Der Hayr Gomidas Baghsarian said it best: “Margaret, Sylvia, and Doc are pillars in our community, motivated by love of Christ, their church, and the Armenian nation.”

In effect, they have been role models for those who followed.

Margaret, who grew up with 5 brothers, fondly remembers how Joyce Mooradian recruited her to join the AYF at age 15. Prior to that, Margaret had been a church choir member since she was 10 years old, and her devotion to the church has only increased over these many years.

“In the AYF, John Sahagian was my shot put coach and he later pushed me into baseball throw, swimming, golf, and high jump, looking to pick up as many points as we could in Olympics,” she said.

As time went on, Margaret’s energy and love of activity prompted her to serve on the chapter executive many times and also on the AYF Central Executive.

Margaret finished Olympic participation with a total of 50 points and ironically shared Olympic Queen honors with Virginia Madoian, Sylvia’s sister, in 2003.

Eventually, she joined the ARF and ARS, serving on local executives and also on the ARS Regional and Central Executive. When Hamazkayin was organized in Providence, she was elected its first chairperson. Margaret was also elected to many church Board of Trustees, served as board executive and on many committees, including bazaar and NRA.

Professionally, she retired after many years working for the Rhode Island juvenile probation department and the Family Court.

Reflecting on Margaret, Der Gomidas added: “Margaret serves her church and community with a pure heart… I cherish her wisdom and input.”




“Sylvia Simonian has long been dedicated to the AYF and church; she sees our community as part of her family,” said big brother Doc.

A charter camper at Camp Haiastan at the age of 10, Sylvia joined the AYF Juniors and brought her spirit and energy to the Seniors for many years. She served on the chapter executive and also on AYF Central Executive.

She participated in many Olympics, placing consistently in the 50- and 100-yard dashes and the long jump.

“My sister Virginia was a better athlete. Virginia was high scorer two consecutive years and held the long jump record for many years,” Sylvia told me proudly.

In recognition of her own Olympic success and community involvement, Sylvia was named Olympic Queen in 1994, with Doc being chosen Olympic King at the same time.

No one worked harder on the field than Sylvia, in the events or as team cheerleader.

Sylvia was elected to the Board of Trustees and as NRA delegate many times in addition to serving many years on bazaar, NRA, and related committees.

Given Sylvia’s many years as a church activist, Der Gomidas refers to her as “…one who has the gift of quiet leadership who loves her church and community family.”

A legal secretary for the same law firm for 57 years and counting, she has also been an ARS “Ani” Chapter member for years, serving in many capacities.

Sylvia and Virginia may be the only sisters to receive Olympic Queen honors.


Elaborating on his previous collective statement on the trio, Der Gomidas observed, “Doc is probably the most respected parishioner in our community for his many years of faithful service to youth, sports, and all aspects of our church.”

Doc remembers the origination of his “name.”

“I was a member of my high school football team. As I was sitting on the bench during one game, the coach called for the medical bag. I grabbed it and ran out with it…that was my job while on the bench. My high school friends started calling me ‘Doc.’”

A successful businessman, Doc worked in industry and then started his own company with machines in the back of his parent’s grocery store. Ultimately, he and wife Oppie (former Arpie Asadoorian) established the well-known Narragansett Screw Co., selling it after 39 years and retiring.

“Mom was at his side day to day,” daughter Donna remembers. “Dad was either working…helping the AYF or the church.”

Their two daughters—Donna and Jean—participated greatly in the AYF. Donna offers with a laugh, “I think my first steps as a baby, starting to walk, were on a basketball court at an AYF basketball tourney.”

“Olympics, basketball, rallies, church, and church events were family occasions,” she adds.

An active AYF member, Doc served on Central Executive for many years, and as Central Athletic Council director. He was also a lead force in introducing swimming to the Olympics and, partnering with the likes of Al Jelalian, organized the first Olympic swim events in Niagara Falls in 1958.

Doc’s work with the Armenian youth in sports is legendary, with no peer.

He organized and coached many AYF sports teams for boys and girls—Olympics, softball and basketball. His 1951 AYF team won the national organizational tourney.

Doc has directed Providence-held Olympics many times with distinct and timely organization and skill, and has garnered respect from his peers and participants.

He is an honorary member of the Providence AYF, was honored by the AYF and Homenetmen for his work with youth, and was named Olympic King in 1994 along with Sylvia as Queen.

Doc also coached the Sts. Vartanantz Church basketball team in the New England YMCA league and won the New England title six times! He also served on the board of management of the Providence YMCA and was awarded the Providence YMCA Meritorius Award in 1991. Also in 1991, he was named Man of the Year by the Armenian Masonic degree team.

Doc did split his volunteer time between the youth and the church. He served as a Board of Trustees member for 17 years, chairing the group 8 of those years. He was NRA delegate for 12 years.

Garry Giragosian, who has worked with AYF sports teams for many years, served on the church board with Doc and offered a perspective of Doc’s manner: “Doc would listen to everyone, encourage dialogue then bring the discussions to a good conclusion for the benefit of the church, and for all. … He was a prince to work with. … He had immeasurable respect.”

Chairman of the church bazaar for some 25 years, Doc also served on the Prelacy Executive Council and, in 1969, received the Cilician Knight Award from Catholicos Khoren.




The Terrific Trio from Providence has the respect of their peers and the generations of youth who have followed in the dynamic Providence community.

Margaret, Sylvia, and big brother Doc helped create the “Varantian” spirit in the land of the Green Machine and have done a great deal to pass it on.

Margaret, Sylvia, and Doc: a terrific trio of lifetime AYF-ers!

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: The Terrific Trio from Providence